Bitter Orange
Claire Fuller

Book cover image

Narrated By: Rachel Bavidge

Duration: 9 hours and 25 minutes

What to expect

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller, read by Rachel Bavidge.

From the attic of a dilapidated English country house, she sees them - Cara first: dark and beautiful, clinging to a marble fountain of Cupid, and Peter, an Apollo. It is 1969 and they are spending the summer in the rooms below hers while Frances writes a report on the follies in the garden for the absent American owner. But she is distracted. Beneath a floorboard in her bathroom, she discovers a peephole which gives her access to her neighbours' private lives.

To Frances' surprise, Cara and Peter are keen to spend time with her. It is the first occasion that she has had anybody to call a friend, and before long they are spending every day together: eating lavish dinners, drinking bottle after bottle of wine, and smoking cigarettes till the ash piles up on the crumbling furniture. Frances is dazzled.

But as the hot summer rolls lazily on, it becomes clear that not everything is right between Cara and Peter. The stories that Cara tells don't quite add up - and as Frances becomes increasingly entangled in the lives of the glamorous, hedonistic couple, the boundaries between truth and lies, right and wrong, begin to blur.

Amid the decadence of that summer, a small crime brings on a bigger one: a crime so terrible that it will brand all their lives forever.

'A twisty, thorny, darkly atmospheric page turner about loneliness and belonging' Gabriel Tallent, author of My Absolute Darling

'Incredibly atmospheric, vivid and intriguing. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't reading a forgotten classic' Emma Healey


Modern & contemporary fiction, Thriller / suspense fiction, Narrative theme: Sense of place, Narrative theme: Interior life

Listen to a sample

Dark, beautifully written. It reminds me very much of Ian McEwan's Atonement, with similar slow-build tension and claustrophobic atmosphere

The Pool

A stealthy shocker about thwarted desire. A sinister, slow-burn tale that saves its most heart-wrenching revelation for last


Sumptuous and sinister with gothic hints, this is a compelling tale of blurred friendships


A twisty, thorny, darkly atmospheric page turner about loneliness and belonging

Gabriel Tallent, author of My Absolute Darling

Bitter Orange reads like an assured, old-school, du Maurieresque classic. It's an atmospheric page-turner that speeds us towards a bloody climax of shocks and surprises

Irish Times

Multi-layered, lush, twisty and brilliantly clever

The Sunday Mirror

A rich and hypnotic read


Full of complex characters and narrative richness

The Sunday Times Culture

This darkly smouldering, desperately sad, superior psychological thriller contains shades of Zoe Heller's Notes On A Scandal

Daily Mail

Bewitching, otherworldly . . . full of dark foreboding. Claire Fuller is a dazzling storyteller.


Sinister and suspenseful, this gothic novel simmers with guilt, lust and envy

Mail on Sunday

Fuller is a master at summoning the atmosphere of a heady, hot summer that thrums with tension


A delicate and disturbing read, alive with love, lust, envy and guilt

S Magazine

As haunting as tuberose and delicate as a scalpel

Laline Paull

An exquisite and skilfully written novel, which worms its way under your skin while Frances's loneliness seeps off every page


Nothing is quite what it seems in this engrossing, moreish novel about a naïve woman and the hedonistic couple who beguile her

Sunday Times Culture

With shades of Brideshead and Manderley, Claire Fuller's atmospheric third novel plays a satisfyingly unpredictable game with reader expectations. Prepare to be meticulously unsettled and horribly enthralled

Country Life

Full of dark foreboding. Claire Fuller is a dazzling storyteller

Belfast Telegraph

Rich and compelling. Fuller is an accomplished writer


A sinister story that considers the terrifying lengths people will go to escape their pasts. In the vein of Shirley Jackson's bone-chilling The Haunting of Hill House, Fuller's disturbing novel will entrap readers in its twisty narrative, leaving them to reckon with what is real and what is unreal. An intoxicating, unsettling masterpiece.


A rich, dark pressure cooker of a novel that simmers with slow heat and suppressed tension

Ruth Ware

Elegant, atmospheric, vivid

The Big Issue

A compulsive page-turner. Fuller creates an atmosphere of simmering menace with all the assurance of a latter-day Daphne du Maurier

The Times

It is rare for me to put down a novel and then immediately consider rereading it to see what cleverness I might have missed. This time, though, I am tempted.

Lucy Atkins, Sunday Times

Cannily releasing clues on the way to an explosive finale . . . The lush setting and remarkable characters make for an immersive mystery

Publishers Weekly

Heady, claustrophobic . . . makes for perfect heatwave reading. Echoes Penelope Lively's Booker-winning Moon Tiger, Anita Brookner's Look At Me, and Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger


Beautifully written, with echoes of Barbara Vine and Daphne du Maurier

Andrew Taylor, Spectator Books of the Year 2018

A smart creation from a skilled writer: a heady psychological novel that builds its layers carefully to allow gradual revelations and stomach-churning surprises

Financial Times

Loneliness, guilt and atonement are at the heart of the atmospheric Bitter Orange

Good Housekeeping

Naturally engaging and elegantly written. Fuller is an amply gifted storyteller


Atmospheric. Rich, clever and very readable.

Amanda Craig, Telegraph

Reminds me of JL Carr's A Month in the Country, Daphne Du Maurier's Jamaica Inn, and Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Incredibly atmospheric, vivid, and intriguing. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't reading a forgotten classic.